Monday, 10 October 2011

How Does The Money Work

OMG! You've got a deal with a Bix Six publisher! It's a one-book deal for £20,000 - break open the champagne and book the holiday of your dreams.

STOP!!!

Sadly, while you should definitely break open the champagne, hold back with the big spending. A publishing deal doesn't mean you getting the money in one wodge, it's a staggered payment. Plus, your agent is going to be taking a cut from it, 10% or more usually nowadays, 15%. That's £2000 - £3000 gone immediately. You're now playing with £17,000.

This is likely to come in several stages:

1: Signature of contract
2: Acceptance of manuscript
3: Publication of hardback
4: Publication of paperback

There are variations on the stages: if your manuscript is already completed, Stage 1 & 2 are combined so there are only 3 stages; if it's only coming out in hardback or paperback, then again that's down to 3 stages.

So if it's 4 stages, that's £4250 per stage, 3 stages is £6333. Nice money, but it doesn't have the same woo-hoo qualities as £20,000. Especially when it may be spread out over a couple of years.

I signed my deal in October 2002, when I got Stage 1. I had to wait until January 2004 for Stage 2 for hardback publication, and May 2004 for Stage 3. In other words, the money was spread out over 20 months.

Let's suppose you've signed a £40,000, 2 book deal. Woo-hoo! Book A is finished, Book B is just a synopsis. It's October 2011, they've decided the perfect time for your book to be published is April. It takes about a year for a publisher to produce a book so that's not going to be April 2012, but 2013. That means that Book B is scheduled for April 2014. Because Book A is finished, it's on a 3 stage payment. Book B is but a couple of pixels on your laptop, so it's on a 4 stage payment. Here goes...

October 2011: Stage 1 (of 3) signature/delivery Book A = £6333, Stage 1 (of 4) signature Book B = £4250
November 2011: Nothing
December 2011: Nothing
January 2012: Nothing
February 2012: Nothing
March 2012: Nothing
April 2012: Nothing
May 2012: Nothing
June 2012: Nothing
July 2012: Nothing
August 2012: Nothing
September 2012: Nothing
October 2012: Nothing
November 2012: Nothing
December 2012: Stage 2 (of 3) hardback Book A = £6333
January 2013: Nothing
February 2013: Nothing
March 2012: Nothing
April 2013: Stage 3 (of 3) paperback Book A = £6333
May 2013: Nothing
June 2013: Stage 2 (of 4) Delivery of ms for Book B = £4250
July 2013: Nothing
August 2013: Nothing
September 2013: Nothing
October 2013: Nothing
November 2013: Nothing
December 2013: Stage 3 (of 4) hardback Book B = £4250
January 2014: Nothing
February 2014: Nothing
March 2014: Nothing
April 2014: Stage 4 (of 4) paperback Book B = £4250

Hopefully at some point in 2013 you're signing a deal for Book C and Book D, so more money will pitch up then. And other rights sales may help out, as will royalty payments if you get them, and PLR from the libraries. But I hope you can see why people say "Don't give up the day job" when you sign your first deal.

7 comments:

Diane Fordham said...

Wow that was an eye opener! I've often thought there is more money in the short story BUT there is all that competition and limited markets ... I guess realistically there are only those fortunate few that make a fortune from writing - just as well we write out of the love of it then, lol.

Karen said...

I just received the first stage payment from my German book deal, and stupidly hadn't realised it was paid in stages, so yes it was a bit less "woo-hoo!" than I'd expected. (Really must read the contract properly!)

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

I got plenty of nothing...

penny simpson said...

My mother's home help gets £9.50 an hour...

Debs Carr said...

That certainly puts it into perspective.

Mind you, I'd be happy to make anything at all.

Nell Dixon said...

When I started out I was told never give up the day job until I had an active backlist that was earning me money on a regular basis.

Sarah Duncan said...

Diane - good for you if you can make money from the short story market.

Karen - congrats on the German deal, and remember that the money WILL arrive at some point, even if it's not all in one whoosh.

Fiona - But nothing can become something, it really can. Cross fingers!

Penny - If we were doing it for the money, we'd do something else. Like being a home help. Think baby sitting pays better most of the time.

Debs - It's easy to get carried away because the numbers sound large at first. Cross fingers it happens for you.

Nell - that's really good advice. The other bit I got was don't have a mortgage so you never worry about losing your home.